Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My struggles with Bibliophilia

I go to a bookstore at least three or four times a week. That doesn't include my time spent reading online or looking for used copies of Peter Kreeft's works on Amazon. (For those not familiar with Kreeft, he is a Catholic philosopher and professor at Boston College known for his wit, apologetics and love of the ocean.) Before I had children and when my wife worked in retail and my Saturdays belonged to me, it was my common practice to sit and read in our local bookstore for eight hours at a stretch. (I once worked with a former supervisor of said local bookstore and she informed me that I was the kind of customer she and her co-workers despised. I rarely buy new books, and why should I when I can get it for half-price from global monsters like Amazon? She should have said something and maybe I would have stopped highlighting all of Emmanuel Levinas' works.)

And so when my bibliophilia is allowed to run unchecked and it's the day after payday, I buy books. (My wife wishes I would spend more of my paycheck on new shirts, but have you seen what patrons of second-hand bookstores wear?) When Ian was born on Saturday at 12:45pm, I only managed to wait 22 hours to buy a new (couldn't wait to search Amazon for this one) copy of Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parent's Guide. (Did I buy any books when Silvi was born? If not, why not? Is it because she was born without that blessed - or cursed, depending on the hour these days - extra little chromosome? Sorry Silvi, I owe you a book.) A day later and I bowed before the Amazonian god to purchase Critical Reflections Of Stanley Hauerwas' Theology Of Disability and The Man Who Loved Clowns, which I understand is a classic in DS circles.

I read the first three chapters of Babies with Down Syndrome before passing it over to Annie to finish for me. Maybe I stopped too soon, but chapter three focuses on all of the things that could go wrong with Ian. Ian may have trouble hearing, seeing, swallowing, running, breathing, he might need heart surgery, get Leukemia or Alzheimer's or both coupled with Autism and... I mean, come on! Give the little guy a break already.

As is often my habit when using the salving relief of words on pulpwood, I moved from that depressing book about reality - the concrete, if you like - to the abstract world of professor Stanley Hauerwas, one of America's most influential theologians, fervent pacifist and a voice for the disabled. One could argue, though, that his is not an entirely abstract perspective in that he has been championing the rights of the mentally impaired since the 1970's. Abstract thought only remains in the abstract when there is no one to put the ideas into practice. And that is why I am turning to Hauerwas and others like him, such as Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche, a home for those with mental challenges.

Putting ideas into practice. Right after I finish reading another book.


lasrb said...

Ok...whatever. You philosophers make my head spin. I want more pictures;)

aunt bonnie said...

I'm with Amber, my head is swimming. I even put in my last Congregational Report that philosophical discussions make me dizzy! However, I do revere you people who understand what you are saying. More pictures. please.

Lori F said...

Hi Tom! I'm so glad you found my blog. I'm also glad you found Hauwerwas & the New Parents Guide. You've already got some great info. My advice on the "things that can go wrong" is that holds true for all kids. My second piece of advice is make sure you have a pediatrician who has a positive outlook for your son's life. I look forward to reading more from you.

Tom said...

If a picture is taken in the woods and nobody is around... OK, enough philosophy for one day. I appreciate all the great comments, Aunt Bonnie and Amber.

And thanks for the advice, Lori; I'll take it to heart.